Facts about Marijuana Use
After a decade of decline, marijuana use has steadily increased among American youth. The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which assesses drug and alcohol use among American youth, reported substantial increases among eighth, 10th and 12th graders from 1992 through 1997. Increases in marijuana smoking are part of a disturbing national trend in which cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse and the use of cocaine and other drugs are also on the rise.
According to the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), marijuana was the most frequently used illicit drug.
- Sixty percent of all drug users report using only marijuana.
- An additional 20 percent report using marijuana and another illicit drug.
This adds up to 18 million Americans, including children, who reported using marijuana in the past year.
- More than 137,564,000 Americans were treated for marijuana abuse in 1994.
The NHSDA also reported that among those using marijuana on 12 or more days during the past year, 58 percent of people had one problem that they related to their marijuana use, 41 percent had two problems and 28 percent had at least three problems that they related to their marijuana use.
The problems associated with marijuana use were greatest among the youngest age groups. Nearly 75 percent of children and teens (12- to 17-year-olds) who used marijuana on 12 or more days in the past year experienced significant problems related to use. Forty-two percent experienced three or more problems, including loss of control over their use.
Why is marijuana use among American teens escalating? Increases in use can be attributed, in part, to cultural influences that minimize the danger or glamourize drug use. Specifically, 41 percent of teens and 53 percent of their parents say that American culture glamourizes the use of illegal drugs.
Survey data regarding parental expectations also are instructive. In a study published in 1996, the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that 65 percent of baby boomer parents who had used marijuana regularly expected their own children to use it, compared with only 29 percent of baby boomer parents who never used marijuana. Consequently, parental attitudes and expectations regarding the risks of drug use are significant contributing factors to the growing acceptance of marijuana use among teens.
Marijuana use among adolescents increased steadily between 1992 and 1997. By 1994, 4 to 5 percent of the general population and 15 to 20 percent of high school seniors had used marijuana at least once a month in the preceding year. In 1996, 13 percent of youths ages 12 to 17 had used marijuana in the preceding year and 77 percent had used it that month. The rising incidence in use among U.S. citizens reported throughout the 1990s appears to be due to the new users among teenagers.